Sunday, May 29, 2011
A Conflict of Interest
By Adam Mitzner
New York, Gallery Books, 2011
370 pages Fiction
A Conflict of Interest was a welcome diversion for me from the non-fiction I have been reading for the past week. I was tired of trying to learn something so I could sound knowledgeable on my blog postings. Adam Mitzner has written a law procedural novel that has some surprising twists and turns which leads to a satisfactory conclusion. I enjoyed every minute of it. Pure escapism.
Alex Miller is a young partner in a large New York law firm. At his father’s funeral in Florida, he meets a good friend of his father who is facing prosecution in New York for securities fraud. He asks Alex to represent him. The hefty retainer puts Alex in good stead at the firm, and he is assigned a beautiful second lawyer, Abby, to help him with the case. Just before trial, Alex’s mother is found dead in Florida, an apparent drowning. The trial, his mother’s death, problems in his marriage, and an impending infidelity with Abby all serve to cause the usually unflappable Alex to become unsure of himself and his place in the world. His grounding is his young daughter, and his love for her keeps him moving forward as the world shakes beneath his feet. As Alex deals with the challenges of a difficult client and the fallout following the securities trial, he confronts the demons that would ensnare him and discovers new meaning for his life and the life of his family.
Adam Mitzner knows his way around New York City law firms, and much of the first third of the book establishes his authority as an author who knows this world very well. There may be too much time spent setting the stage, but on the other hand, it is written in a style generous enough that it continues to hold the reader’s interest. Once the premise is firmly established, the law office and courtroom details become minimal and the reader becomes engrossed in the twists and turns of the plot. And the plot is very good. I am always intrigued by characters that face moral dilemmas, and I try to determine what is in the author’s mind as he wrestles with the dilemma. Will the author choose the good and true? Will he choose the morally expedient? Will justice come at the expense of the protagonist? Will the wife forgive? Alex Miller is more finely drawn protagonist than many, and I was satisfied with the final choices he made as a lawyer, a son, a husband and a father. The actions he took were valid and truthful.
It is a good book for a casual read. The characters are interesting, the plot is diverting, and the writing style is more than serviceable. My sister and her husband are veteran police and lawyer procedural novel readers. I am at their cottage today, and their shelves are full of Michael Connolly, and David Baldacci. I will leave A Conflict of Interest here for them to read this summer. I appreciate having received this book from the publicists. It brought me out of a non-fiction funk.
Most bloggers whose reviews I read enjoyed it as I did. The following review confronts some of the weaknesses of the book, which I can understand. However, I wouldn’t let this review keep you from enjoying a great escape.
The Kirkus review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/fiction/adam-mitzner/conflict-interest/
A complementary review in the Seattle Post Intelligencer: http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Book-Review-A-Conflict-of-Interest-by-Adam-1370794.php
Adam Mitzner’s website: http://www.adammitzner.com/